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Let’s start with definitions. Centralized PR means that all press communication is done through an authorized channel, often a PR professional, in the form of official press releases. Journalists have to rely on a single gatekeeper and wait for access to information.
In 2021, companies still relied on centralized press communications to launch products and deliver company news. Meanwhile, the tech industry offers news almost every day, whether it’s a Facebook rebrand, Donald Trump’s release of a social network, or Apple’s unveiling of a new MacBook. Can the official PR news cut through the noise?
Hardly ever. It may seem like I’m shooting myself in the foot, but a centralized PR approach is no longer relevant to the tech industry. Innovative and fluid in their sense, technology and media live and breathe with trends, powerful reactions and stay on the agenda. This is where decentralized PR can help.
What is decentralized PR?
Decentralized PR means the company has multiple legitimate sources of information for the press – particularly on social media platforms. These sources may include but are not limited to:
Company social media profiles used to respond to media, e.g. viber could transmit its position directly to a reporter if it was of great importance to users.
Personal social media profiles of the CEO and C-Suite, e.g. Take Elon Musk’s infamous Twitter, for example, where posts can cause dramatic shifts in stock markets.
Personal social media profiles of functional managers and PR representatives, e.g. Other sources, such as Matt Cutts’ Twitter, were a major source of insight into Google’s search algorithm updates until his retirement in 2016.
Reddit AMAs or threads edited by the company’s experts, etc.
Among the great examples I’ve seen recently are some from Apple, which changed its press communications policy last year. When Apple unveiled new MacBook Pros in October, Apple posted a message on Twitter minutes before emailing journalists. It also uses Twitter to post video announcements exclusive to the platform.
In addition, Apple spreads breaking news not only through official brand pages, but also through the company’s employees. Google caught the trend by announcing Pixel 6 in the form of a funny tweet chain between all Google services.
Decentralized PR has several benefits – from more human and direct lines of communication, to the ability to quickly respond to events without being held back by approval chains, to better and (hopefully) warmer communication and reporting. At the end of the day, reporters want to Pitches from foundersno PR agencies,” as Josh Consitine writes.
Related Topics: 8 Questions That Will Tell You Whether You Should Use Social Media or Not
How to use decentralized PR
Similar to digital transformation, a shift to decentralized PR cannot happen overnight. Instead, every company should tread carefully to avoid going wild in their public communications. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Know your strengths
Despite all the benefits, it’s not for everyone. Startups should by default take advantage of direct media communication – founders and the team are always the best and often the only speakers. At the beginning of the business, it makes sense not to completely outsource your reputation to PR and instead build your credibility directly.
A classic press service combined with additional communication channels is ideal for larger companies. In the Apple example, the Twitter communication is supplemented by a powerful press center with all the b-rolls that journalists and bloggers need – including the ability to download text and graphics.
Select the platforms
Twitter has been a platform for journalists for a long time. And for many startups, Twitter is that too main platform for the presence of the founder and creating a community around his vision. according to a to learn from MuckRack:
76 percent of journalists say Twitter is their most valuable social network, and 37 percent plan to use Twitter more over the next year
16 percent turned to Twitter as their first news source, a trend we’ve seen over the past four years
Twitter is about interaction and context, about memes and communication. You’d have to be a communicator to excel in it — or Cardi B. But would it be a done deal to upload all press releases to Twitter? Of course not!
Other platforms like LinkedIn might be more relevant to the message you are conveying. Microblogging, expressing opinions on the current agenda or even communicating with potential employees can bring long-term benefits. Additionally, following media executives and journalists on Twitter is a great way to ensure you’re up to date with the latest media policy updates. For example the Updated guidelines from Verge and Quartz on the conditions under which journalists speak to confidential individuals. And there are times when social media should be brushed aside — even pros make mistakes and offend many journalists at once.
Also see: Want to do a PR push? Focus on social media first.
Create a policy
Probably the most important step is to define your approach to online press communications. Public Relations and Media Policies provide a framework for appropriate online postings and discussions/for both Company employees and keynote speakers, including blogs, user-generated video and audio, virtual worlds, and social media. It is also a document that can explain the most common PR terms like exclusive, embargo, pitch, press release types and so on.
Identify the company’s keynote speakers who can comment on expert topics. Decide which topics you are willing and not willing to discuss, which business stories you can tell and which are restricted by legal limits, business strategy or confidentiality. Regularly think about what you want to read and learn from brands. Determine who is responsible and what commitments you make.
It is convenient to create a transparent approach based on an industry best practice understanding to resolve PR issues such as: CEO calls on journalists for your work. A PR policy document should not only give you flexibility, but also provide clear guidelines for the level of communication you want to establish with the external audience.
Coaching founders, C-suite and younger executives to speak directly to the media is a must. Use the guideline, but also share the useful ones tips given by journalists. Anyone authorized and trained to speak publicly for the Company is encouraged to subscribe to Opinion Leaders and Journalists and set aside an hour a day to read, comment and share interesting observations.
Show the benefit
PR work is like compound interest in finance. They continually invest in quality efforts that pay off as the accumulation and growth of a positive reputation. This work takes time and requires an intelligent testing and learning approach. Make sure your team has a clear performance tracker and KPI framework to demonstrate the benefits of decentralized PR. If done right, it will inspire more loyalty from the audience.
Also see: 7 PR strategies you need to know for 2022